By Joseph Sherman, Editor-in-Chief, Salone Monitor
Sierra Leone President Ernest Koroma has made major face-lift at Lungi International Airport as he plans to build a new airport and give the country’ a favorable atmosphere to further lure investors to the West African nation. President Koroma was addressing a meeting of international investors, where he outlined his “big, bold” plans to take the war-ravaged nation into the future, with a three-pronged investment plan in a new economic hub. This includes turning Lungi, separated from the capital Freetownby the Sierra Leoneestuary, into a new city, building a bridge across the estuary, and a total makeover to the international airport in Lungi.
Currently,Freetown is too congested and does not meet present and emerging demand for structured services and utilities. The city is largely unplanned and there is no zoning into commercial, residential, industrial and governmental areas,” said Koroma. Transportation and the mobility of persons and vehicles are significantly hampered due to congestion. While the vehicle and population growth rates remain high, the number of usable roads is low. President Koroma said pressure on land in the capital has caused the beauty of the city to erode. On the need for a modern international airport, Koroma said “the current airport is relatively small and ill-equipped for modern day air carriers.” “Sierra Leoneans must no longer allow that state of our airport to deter investors and visitors.” President Koroma added the new bridge would “end significant and costly delays resulting from the unreliable and poor connectivity” to the capitalFreetown. A conference insider said the total cost was estimated at up to $900 million (630 million euro).
In another development, as part of its economic development and poverty reduction strategy,Sierra Leonehas defined closing infrastructure gaps and promoting private sector growth as essential. The Lungi-Port Loko road project (62km) fully complies with this national strategic orientation. The project will improve the land route between the airport at
Lungi and the capitalFreetown, and also enhance the development of regional trade between Port Loko district and the rest of the country andGuinea. The project covers: i) Construction work for the upgrading of 62km Lungi -Port Loko road to paved standards and the rehabilitation of 6.5km of Lungi township roads, the gravelling of 30km of earth feeder roads and construction of social infrastructure for local small scale farmers; ii) Consultancy services for the supervision of the works, iii) Consultancy services for Evaluation and Monitoring of the project impact, and iv) project audit consultancy services. The duration of implementation of the project is 24 months (January 2010 to January 2012). The total project costs, exclusive of taxes and duties are UA 26.26 million. The cost of compensation is estimated at UA 0.6 million.
The project is connecting to the Freetown – Conakry road corridor and as such, will contribute to regional integration between Sierra Leone and the neighboring Face-lift of Airport entrance
countries. In addition, this project is country-driven as linked with two of the four themes of the draft PRSP II of the GOSL, which is closing infrastructure gaps and enabling private sector growth. Furthermore the medium-term Bank Group Strategy (2008-2012) which has put a strong emphasis on infrastructure, including transport, promotes and supports regional integration and the development of fragile states.